Habitat Action Plan: Reedbeds

By | August 7, 2008

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1 Current status
1.1 National
Reedbeds are wetlands dominated by stands of Common Reed Phragmites australis,
where the water table is above ground level for most of the year.
Reedbeds often include areas of open water and ditches. Small areas of wet grassland
and carr woodland may also be associated with them.
Reedbeds occur in most water conditions including brackish waters, and on both peat
and mineral soils. Typical NVC communities include S4 (Phragmites australis
swamp and reed-beds) in brackish waters and S25 / S26 (Phragmites australis-
Eupatorium cannabinum tall-herb fen/Phragmites australis-Urtica dioica tall-herb
fen) in fresh waters.
Nationally there are around 5000ha of Phragmites reedbed. A survey carried out by
RSPB in 1993 showed that of the 926 sites identified, most were fragmented into
areas of less than 1 ha.
In NW England, extensive reedbeds are extremely rare although small stands are
relatively frequent around lake shores and along the banks of rivers and canals.
Regionally important examples are associated with lowland water bodies and wet
hollows throughout the region.

1.2 Local
In 2003, LWT collated the extent of all reedbed habitat in Merseyside giving us
excellent information on the extent of this habitat and meeting the targets of the first
edition of this HAP for baseline information.
A total of 23.715 ha of reedbed was identified in North Merseyside; 17.615ha in
blocks and 6.1ha alongside ditches and other watercourses.
St Helens holds 8.7ha spread over 11 individual sites, none of which are linear. The
largest of its sites is 4 ha at Sankey Valley Park, this being the largest reedbed on
Merseyside. The Bold Moss complex is also very important, with 4.2 ha in total. The
reedbed at this site is fragmented within a habitat mosaic of wet woodland, wet
grassland, open water, heathland and bog.
Sefton has a total area of 11.945ha, approximately half the regions resource, at 11
individual sites, the largest areas are those at Rimrose Valley over two sites - 1.5ha at
Brookvale LNR and 2.5ha at Fulwood Way (Rimrose Valley Marsh). In the Sefton
Village/Lunt area a matrix of ditches adds up to 4 ha of reed - a substantial portion of
the Sefton resource.
Liverpool has 2.87ha of reedbed over 10 sites, the largest being 0.8ha at Fazakerley.
Knowsley has just one site - 0.2ha at Netherley Brook.
In North Merseyside, most original Phragmites reedbed habitat has been lost, due to
urban development and land drainage for agriculture.
Targets to maintain the quality of the existing resource have been progressed by such
measures as the management plan for Colliers Moss (see Lowland Raised Bogs),
which includes provision for reedbed and the funding provided by the Environment
Agency and Atlantic Gateway to Sefton Coast and Countryside Service to restore 4.4
hectares of reedbed at Rimrose Valley Country Park. The Environment Agency also
provided ecological survey and management advice on the reedbeds and Water Voles
issues.
New reedbeds are being created for a variety of purposes such as water quality
improvement and encouragement of wildlife. Many of these are less than 1ha in size
and are isolated from each other. A small number of habitat creation projects resulted
in around 1.6 hectares of new reedbed between 2002 and 2005.